What an interesting time we are living through now. Fraught with extra doses of stress and anxiety, no doubt. But, also ripe with the possibility of living a simpler and more easeful life. I, for one, have been faring well, thanks in part to my mindful toolbox.
It is okay that you are feeling more stressed these days, as you navigate living through this global pandemic. Being sheltered in place, worrying about your health, dealing with financial uncertainty, being concerned about your loved ones, and not knowing when and how all of this is going to end all contribute to being more anxious. When your fight or flight system gets turned on by circumstances like these, it can get stuck in overdrive, and you feel more emotionally volatile. Little things that normally you could take in stride bother you more. Your fuse is shorter, and you get more easily upset with loved ones. Your anxious brain chugs into the wee hours, and you may find it harder to sleep.
For me, Nature has always been a go-to for improving my emotional state. When I was young, I didn’t fit into the mold of what was expected of a mid-western farm boy. I was teased for how I behaved and didn’t know how to cope with the sadness and isolation I felt. What would help were long walks in our woods, hours spent wading in the creek observing the fish, water bugs and butterflies and the song and dance numbers I would perform for our horses and cows safely secluded in the back-back fields. I also loved to grow things. My grandpa and I were the family gardeners. In fact, my first claim to fame came at age seven when I got my name in the local paper for growing an enormous sweet potato. Today, my garden still brings me joy. It provides a safe haven where it’s easy to feel at peace with the world. How can you be ill at ease surrounded by such beauty?
Being in Nature also helps me stay in the present moment. It’s important to remember, especially when we are dealing with the unknown, that you only have to manage what is on your plate today. Trying to manage all of your future plates would be overwhelming for anyone. When you come back to the here and now and acknowledge, “I got this,” you can flip the switch in your brain that may be fearfully whispering, “it’s got me.”
I’ve also been feeling very grateful lately. I am grateful to still be able to teach amidst our sheltered state, albeit electronically via Zoom. This month, I will be offering my course on dealing with anxiety, as well as an applied mindfulness course for returning students. You can read the details below. If you need some help coping, please be in touch. I am happiest when I am able to share with others what I have learned in dealing with my own anxieties and upsets. I can attest that these tools work, though they do require effort on our part.
Hope you are able to get outside today and enjoy some time with Mother Nature. For now, here are some flowers from my garden.